Monday, May 2, 2011

The Peaceable Kingdom


Not far out of town live Farmer and Mrs Peaceable and their five children.  (Yes, five, I know!)  They are all long, lean and straight of limb and they live off the land.  They all have ferociously blue eyes.  In fact it was because of Farmer and Mrs Peaceable that we came to discover our little town.  They had moved back to the Farmer Peaceable’s family farm and when we first went to visit we were surprised to find a place where time had turned back and there was an abundance of villas and bungalows and a large chiming town clock.  We were charmed and visited as often as we could. 

Farmer and Mrs Peaceable grow their own potatoes, pumpkins and corn, paddocks of produce in fact.  They also love to fish off the coast and if you visit at the right time you will feast on the freshest and most delicious fish ever.  Of course they have a stupendous vegetable garden with enormous rhubarb leaves – so huge that there seems no point in growing gunneras, these rhubarb leaves are just as big. 

The sheep live with the pigs and one sheep in fact seems to believe itself to be a pig because it has spent time with the pigs from a very young age.  There are the most beautiful and colourful roosters and chickens, also Guinea Fowl.  There is a horse or two (Mrs Peaceable hopes Farmer Peaceable may not have noticed the latest addition) and the lovely Floss who is a Miniature Fox Terrier. 

Farmer Peaceable has harvested wood from the farm so that when he and Mrs Peaceable are ready to do their renovations they will be able to use timber grown on their own land, which seems to me to be a very special thing.  One day when Farmer Peaceable was felling trees he found a fledgling magpie which had fallen out of its nest when the trees came down.  He brought it home and it was duly named Patrick and hand reared, becoming so tame that it would swoop down onto approaching visitors, wanting to land on their forearms.  (This was a little disconcerting if you arrived knowing nothing of Patrick’s existence, it must be admitted.)  Patrick would sit in his special tree outside the kitchen window and demand to come inside when he believed it was time for a meal, calling softly and crooning after he was full.  He would follow Mrs Peaceable around when she was gardening, intently inspecting the earth for any freshly uncovered creatures as she weeded.  Floss was a little put out at first, but soon came to accept Patrick and his antics. 

Now many of the farmers of my acquaintance have a certain ruthless streak where the use of land is concerned, but I was surprised to find that it is not always the case at the Peaceable Kingdom.  The daughter of the household was given a beautiful black rabbit as a fifth birthday present.  After two years in captivity Rosie was released by her admiring owner.  Some farmers would have taken their gun and despatched Rosie, but not so at The Peaceable Kingdom where Rosie was allowed to roam free.  Rosie discovered a taste for “a bit of rough” and now she has a consort known as Mr West, a white pelted rogue with a ripped ear but a certain dashing charm, who appears to have fathered a large number of Rosie’s babies. 
The Irresistible Mr West and Rosie  - All tired out

Now when you look out from the windows at The Peaceable Kingdom you can sometimes see a range of multicoloured rabbits cropping the grass and enjoying the late sunshine.  Life is lush at The Peaceable Kingdom indeed.